Having conquered the realm of the physical with The Avengers, physics with Ant-Man, and space with Guardians of the Galaxy, it was only a matter of time (literally) that Marvel tackled the metaphysical. Their go to guy for this undertaking is Stephen Strange. (Doctor Strange for those adverse to first and last names that begin with the same syllable.)
Much like Iron Man pre-Robert Downey Jr, Doctor Strange is not what many consider an A-lister in the Marvel Comics universe along the lines of a Spider-Man or Hulk. On the other hand, the man with the magic hands is also not an unheard of property along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy before the 2014 film single-handedly skyrocketed the group’s status into the stratosphere. (If you think I’m over exaggerating, tell me how many other Marvel characters are getting their own ride at a Disneyland park… mmmm?)
Strange is indeed a strange bird in that his mystical powers rely more on mind over matter than brute strength. I’m not going to get into the details of the character’s background or the films plot as I wouldn’t even come close to doing it justice. That and I want to prevent the rest of my readers from falling asleep who haven’t already done so to this point.
On that note, I’m going keep this review very short as I felt there was one major reason to check this film out, and one semi-major minor thing that which kept it from being one of the best Marvel films yet.
Let’s start with the good kind of strange; the effects.
With the help of Hollywood’s finest visual experts, Marvel made magic happen on screen with one of the most mesmerizing films I’ve ever absorbed with my retinas. The visual effects are so mind-binding in fact, Doctor Strange makes Inception look like a documentary in comparison. In one of the confrontations, I felt like I was strapped inside of a human kaleidoscope. Having also opted for the 3D experience, I can safely say it’s worth saving up an extra weeks’ salary to take in a showing with the extra dimension. The movie doesn’t necessarily require 3D, rather it demands it.
Another positive note comes in the form of musical notes. After a plethora of unforgettable scores, Marvel seems to have finally found a rhythm with Doctor Strange’s original score thanks to movie music veteran Michael Giacchino. Strange’s main orchestral chorus is the most distinct and memorable of any Marvel film yet. Thus it’s probaby no surprise the Italian sound machine has also been tapped to provide the score for next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.
On the other side of the space-time continuum, minus a bit of a slow start, I didn’t have any major complaints with the film with the exception of one glaring person. That individual being Rachel McAdams. I’m not entirely sure if it was just me, however McAdams’ performance was about as colorful as the newspaper classifieds. It’s not often I feel like an actor calls it in, but if it weren’t for her body physically being in the reel, I would have thought she recorded her lines over a satellite phone after drinking a bottle of Nyquil. I’ve seen McAdams do much better so before all of her fan clubs converge on my residence, please note my comments have nothing to do with a personal vendetta against the young actress.
In any event, whether you love or hate any other elements of the flick not listed above, I’m more than confident – a rarity for yours truly – Doctor Strange is well worth the price of admission for the visual trip alone. It’s the closest you’ll get to going on a hallucinatory trip without ingesting mushrooms growing out of your hippie neighbors’ private garden.
To borrow what is probably a severely overused phrase in relation to the movie, Marvel’s latest superhero offering is just what the doctor ordered.